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Orange T-Shirts

Xwalacktun, Rick Harry
Year: 2022
  • Sculpture
  • Paint
  • Plywood
Status: In Place


These murals are painted on plywood in orange and white, in the shape of two large t-shirts, and a central maple leaf shape. They feature a face with tears, eagles, an orca, and a thunderbird inside the maple leaf. They represent Orange Shirt Day, now known as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a movement to acknowledge the trauma and legacy of the Canadian Indian residential school system.

Artist Statement

The shirts signify Orange Shirt Day. The woman with a star in her eye was to represent her as a child back when her orange shirt given to her by her grandmother that was then taken from her when she went to a residential school. There is also an image of a button blanket because in our culture with blankets, when we wrap somebody, we’re honouring them. We’re caring for them and we’re giving them love and comfort in that. So I have a blanket going around her. On the blanket is a killer whale and a bear symbolizing power and strength. On each side of the blanket are seven abalone buttons. Abalone symbolizes wealth; having seven buttons represents the seven generations of the future. As part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process and the 94 Calls to Action, it is also said that it will take seven generations to heal from the trauma done by residential schools. A lot of this artwork has to do with vision, power, and strength to make this flow happen again. Also in the painting are eagles that are watching over us and witnessing, symbolizing that new vision that we’re all leaning towards in truth and reconciliation. Inside the Canadian maple leaf, there is a thunderbird. Its hands are kind of going up. It almost looks like it is saying, ‘Oh, wait! Let’s look at this picture and represent all of Canada’. Then there is what looks like a yield sign with a boy and girl inside it. We really have to care for them.”

Xwalacktun, also known as Rick Harry, is a descendant of Squamish and Kwakwak’wakw ancestry. He creates native art that bridges the past, present, and future, echoing the traditions of his ancestors. With a deep spiritual connection, he collaborates with clients to infuse each piece with personal narratives, breathing life into his creations.

Specializing in Coast Salish style, Xwalacktun seamlessly blends tradition with contemporary expression, catering to a diverse clientele from individuals to corporations. His artworks transcend decoration, becoming cherished treasures and iconic landmarks.

He has adorned prestigious locations with his commissioned works, from intricately carved doors at B.C. Hydro and the University of Victoria First People’s House to striking sculptures at the Audan Museum in Whistler. His craftsmanship has earned accolades including the Georgie Award in 2002 and the Arthur G. Hayden Medal at the 31st Annual International Bridge Conference Awards.

Driven by a commitment to excellence and cultural preservation, Xwalacktun continues to push boundaries in native art, leaving an indelible mark on both the artistic landscape and the communities he serves.


1009, Centennial Way, Squamish, British Columbia, V8B 0E2, Canada.

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